Shore Leave - An Internal Affair
Content Warning: This post contains themes of domestic violence and abuse in a somewhat graphic manner. Please be advised.
With very little ceremony, the chime in Nirrti's shared quarters started going off repeatedly. Thankfully, Bri wasn't there to enjoy the chorus of chime after chime due to her work schedule, but Nirrti sure was. And boy, was it a persistent chime...
It took a few moments for the door to open, on a very sleepy looking Nirrti, hair a mess, wearing a black nightgown with 'The best way to a man's heart is a knife between the ribs' written on it in glitter. "Who disturbs my slumb - oh it's you. Hi Alexi." she offered a meek smile.
"Save me," Alexi said, her eyes wide. "They did... something terrible, Nirrti... they finally assigned me a roommate," She said, melodrama flowing.
Nirrti gave a slow blink, still trying to wake up. She reached down for Alexi's hands, turning them over, examining them. "No blood. Do you need help - " the sentence interrupted by a big yawn. " - hiding the body?" Beat. "Come in, give me a moment to wake up."
"Nirrti, she smells like patchouli and warp core coolant and snorts. She snorts, Nirrti. Like every five seconds," She said, then imitated a loud, unladylike snort, then cleared her throat and said in a throaty, deeper voice, "Oh, sorry, roomie."
"Patchouli? Oh that is an emergency." Nirrti mused, letting the door close behind Alexi. "Make yourself at home." she motioned at her half of the quarters, decorated with dark and grim posters and a few figurines of classic horror movie monsters. "I'll freshen up a bit and put something on."
"I need like... rum. Nirrti, I need rum, and possibly ice cream," She said, then her eyes got wide, "RUM ICECREAM! .. Is that a thing? That needs to be a thing..."
"That's a thing! It exists!" Nirrti called out from the shower area. She came back out a few moments later looking considerably more awake, but still wearing her nightgown. She wandered over to the replicator and produced two bowls of rum icecream, heading back over to Alexi and handing one over. "There you go." she mused, sitting down on the edge of her bed and patpatting the spot next to her for the other girl.
"You're like some sort of goddess, I swear," She said, laughing as she flopped down to next to Nirrti and took the bowl, shoveling a spoonful into her mouth, "Oh my god, that's so good," She said with a giggle. "Am I a bitch for being so pissed about this?" She asked with a sigh as she continued to eat.
Nirrti shifted to lean against Alexi, making herself comfortable. She still looked a bit sleepy, something also evident in the tone of her voice, but she didn't make a point of it. "Yes I am. A goddess. Named after the Hindu goddess of deathly hidden realms and sorrows, actually." she mused. "And, no, you're not a bitch for being annoyed at things that are very annoying."
And once again, the expected feelings of awkwardness and uncomfortableness just... weren't there with Nirrti, and for the life of her Alexi couldn't figure out why. She sighed and leaned her head over on top of Nirrti's, "I mean... I knew it was coming, but I was hoping it would be someone cool, you know?"
"I've already got a roommate though. I got lucky, she's cool." Nirrti mused. "Can't help you, sorry."And she really did seem truly sorry.
"Nah, I know... Stupid," She sighed again. "I'm sorry I woke you for my stupid drama," Alexi said with an embarassed chuckle. "I feel dumb now that I'm sitting here thinking about it."
Nirrti gave a yawn. "It's ok. I had to get up anyways. Was someone at the door." she mused, glancing up at Alexi with a grin. "Besides, hanging out with a friend eating icecream is always worth it."
"Mmm, yeah it is," She said with a grin, reaching around and giving Nirrti a little hug - a bold move for Alexi Briggs.
Nirrti quirked a brow, glancing up at Alexi with a slightly mischievous look. "Well, look who's showing affection now." she mused, before giving a hug back.
That done though she sat up more straight and looked at Alexi pointedly. "So, what's your story, girl. Something's keeping you down. What is it, what happened to you."
Something dark flashed behind Alexi's eyes, and she smiled weakly before looking down at her ice cream and poking at it, before taking a bite and shaking her head, "It's nothing... It was a long time ago."
This was why she didn't make friends.
Nirrti tilted her head a bit, considering for a moment. She then reached for Alexi's hand, placing hers on it, and spoke softly. "It's still bothering you, so it's not nothing. But, it's ok if you don't want to talk about it. I respect that. I'll be here when you do."
"Mmm, yeah, but will you be here after, that's my question," Alexi replied, wryly, still keenly observing her ice cream.
"Can't promise that." Nirrti answered readily. "Depends on what you've got up your sleeves. But as long as it doesn't put me or my sister in danger or is really icky - " she made a face " - I'm sure I can handle it."
"I've never told anyone. The commander doesn't even know, Nirrti," She said, quietly. "I don't think I could ever tell him."
"I can't make you tell me or anyone. It's up to you to decide to." Nirrti frowned, becoming entirely serious now, none of her normal flippant mischievousness remained evident. "But it's obvious that whatever it is still bothers you. Deeply. Is holding you back."
She paused a moment to squeeze Alexi's hand. "Whatever it is, I can't promise you that I'll still be here if you tell me. But I can promise that I will treat you fairly." Nirrti offered a soft smile she hoped was encouraging. "Remember, I'm a Samedi. We don't scare easy."
"I beat my father to death with a baseball bat when I was 16," Alexi said, never making eye contact, just staring at her ice cream and playing with it with the spoon in her free hand.
" ... Huh." Nirrti looked at her for a moment before snuggling in again and resuming her now half melted tub of ice cream. "Neat."
Alexi was quiet for a long moment, looking down at the bowl of ice cream in her hands, stock still, barely able to hear over the sound of her heart pounding in her ears. She cleared her throat, and hoarsely said, "Come again?"
"I said, neat." Nirrti glanced up at Alexi with a soft smile. "Way I see it, you're not a killer. It's clear to see what happened is a real big deal to you and has been a big weight for many years now. Means you're not a psychopath." She shrugged a bit and continued.
"You're afraid of how people view you, afraid they'll abandon you if they know what you did. Means you don't take what happened lightly, and didn't do it lightly either." Nirrti theorized. "You're kind and nice and helpful, means you just want to be appreciated and loved. Means you've got a kind heart."
"Way I figure, he had it coming. Probably self defense. Maybe defending someone else. Now, to me all this adds up to someone who's kind, loving, generous and gentle, but ready and willing to go to great lengths to protect those you love." Nirrti took another scoop of ice cream, adding "Am I close?" with her mouth full.
Tears welled up in Alexi's eyes, not daring to stream down her face yet, "He was beating my mom to death... I... I couldn't get him to stop. I was trying to make him angry, so he'd beat me instead, but he was drunk, and he wouldn't stop, just kept hitting her and hitting her. So I got the baseball bat and I hit him in the head... and... I just... kept hitting him until he stopped moving," She said, her voice quaking.
Nirrti simply set her nearly empty bowl of ice cream aside and wrapped her arms around the other girl, holding her close, gently rocking her. "It's alright." she whispered. "Tears are not an evil. Let it all out." Her voice was soft and kind. "Go on and cry. Let it all go. Your tears are beautiful."
Alexi's whole body shuddered as she let out the first wracking sob, "I didn't--" she gasped "I didn't want to, I didn't!" She said, almost pleadingly, not sure what to do with her own bowl of ice cream, but clutching it as if her life depended on it, "Nirrti, I didn't!"
"I know. Alexi." Nirrti just held her close, gently rocking her in her arms. "I know ... It's ok." she added, simply being there, giving the other girl a soft peck on the cheek, but letting her be emotional as much as she needed to.
Somewhere in the mess that was Alexi, she dropped her bowl to the ground, amazingly managing to land it on the bottom, and wrapped her arms around Nirrti, "I was so scared... I knew he'd kill me if he got up, I just didn't want to die," She sobbed, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry," She said cried, her voice strained.
Nirrti gave Alexi as much time to cry as she needed, just being there for her, holding her close and gently rocking her, speaking words of comfort. "It's ok. I know."
"No, no you don't," Alexi said, abruptly breaking away and standing, "No, Nirrti... I could have stopped... I knew when he was down... but I didn't," She said, her whole body shaking. "I didn't. I kept hitting him, Nirrti... Even when I knew he was dead, I didn't stop. I was so, so angry... So scared," She said, before burying her face in her hands. "I knew I was killing him and I did it anyway. I didn't stop," She said, her voice muffled through her hands.
Nirrti furrowed her brows, nudging Alexi's head up to look straight into her eyes. "Yeah, you killed him. But it's not your fault. It's his fault. It's his fault he was drunk. He could've stopped drinking any time. But he didn't. It's his fault your mom was hurt. He could've stopped beating her any time. But he didn't. And it's his fault that you're hurting now. And as long as you keep blaming yourself, he'll never stop hurting you."
Nirrti scowled, her eyes intense. "It's his fault he got drunk. It's his fault that he started beating your mother. It's his fault that you were driven to do something you didn't want to do. It's his fault that you have nightmares and are ashamed and traumatized." She firmly grabbed Alexi's chin, forcing the other girl to look at her.
"His fault. Everything is his fucking fault. It's his fault that my friend is crying and hurting and traumatized. And I fucking hate him for it. I hate his fucking guts for doing that to you. Ok? And you should too." Nirrti concluded.
Alexi stared at her friend, eyes wide and full of tears, his lips trembling, she opened her mouth, trying to form words, but couldn't, just crumpled herself up into Nirrti's arms.
All Nirrti could do was be there for Alexi, wrapping her arms around her, gently rocking her, supporting her on the bed. It was all she could do, nuzzling her cheek softly, just whispering kind words, letting the girl vent her emotions.
And after a while, as the sobbing subsided, she finally spoke again, her voice quiet and soft. "I'll get you a spare pajama and you can get freshened up and changed. You can stay here. We'll be environmental activists together."
"What about your roommate though?" Alexi croaked. "And I've got shift in a few hours."
Nirrti gave a shrug. "Bri won't mind. And if she does, I'll make it up to you. As for shift in a few hours, I think you need some quiet time. I'm not gonna send you out on your own to be by yourself, Alexi. Not like this. So go get freshened up and changed and we can be environmental activists for a little while."
At Alexi's puzzled look Nirrti elaborated. "Look, when you burn energy you promote entropy, which in turn leads to the heat death of the universe. So by burning as little energy as possible, you are slowing down entropy and delaying the end of the universe. We're not lazy, we're not resting, we're environmental activists."
Alexi let out a choked laugh at that and gave her friend an honest smile, "You're an idiot and I love you for it," She said, sniffling.
"Hey, the science checks out!" Nirrti protested, with a grin. She handed Alexi a spare pyjama and smiled. "Don't worry, I'm not going anywhere. We're still friends. Promise. Now go get changed and you can get some rest before your shift. Ok?"
Alexi sat up and looked down at the pajama set in her hands for a moment, sniffing a few times before looking over at Nirrti, "Don't... ever... okay? Please? I promise I'll never give you a reason to, okay?"
Nirrti took Alexi's hands in hers and looked her straight in the eyes. "I'm a Samedi. We live hard, we love hard, we keep our promises and we don't abandon our friends just because they have it hard."
Alexi squeezed her hands and held back a little sob, then gave her a smile that was equal parts sad and happy, stood shakily and nodded, "Environmental conservation, here we come," She said, starting toward the refresher.